It’s no secret Rasmus Dahlin will be selected first overall by the Buffalo Sabres at the 2018 NHL Draft in June. The only other Swedish player to go No. 1? A lanky 18-year-old centre from Bromma named Mats Sundin back in 1989.
Dahlin, a star with Frolunda in the Swedish Hockey League, is considered a generational talent with the potential to become an all-time great blueliner. He has even drawn comparisons to Nicklas Lidstrom, but Sundin said “it’s tough” to already start putting Dahlin in the same category as the Detroit Red Wings legend.
Lidstrom played two additional seasons in Sweden after being drafted but Dahlin will be expected to play in the NHL. That’s why Sundin thinks comparisons to any NHL greats should be put on hold for at least a couple years.
“You’re a kid. I was in the same position coming over and I was far away from being developed physically to play against the best players in the league,” Sundin said during a Friday morning appearance on Sportsnet’s Starting Lineup. “We have to be fair. Give Rasmus — just like Lidstrom — you give him two, three years in the National Hockey League, he’s going to be a superstar in the league for many years.”
“He’s good at everything,” Detroit Red Wings director of European scouting Hakan Andersson told Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press back in April. “He has great size, he is a great skater, he has very good hands. He’s extremely smart, and he has very high dedication. There is a lot to like.
“I’ve seen him lots over the years. I know how dedicated he is. I know how hard he works. He has no weaknesses.”
Dahlin isn’t the only Swede expected to be taken high in this year’s draft and that fills Sundin with a sense of pride.
“You look at the draft this year. Swedish hockey has done a great job with their development program,” Sundin added. “I think there’s going to be seven or eight Swedish players going in the first round. It’s not Rasmus by himself. There’s a lot of great players coming out of Sweden. It’s a good program right now.”